Sarah Kaufman hit an off-balanced three as time expired, leading Middlebury to a 60-57 win over Springfield (5-4) at the Naismith Classic. The Panthers (7-1) advance to Saturday's Championship Game at 6:30 p.m. against Roger Williams.
Leading 11-9 after the first quarter, Springfield extended its lead to five (19-14) on a jumper from Alex Goslin with 7:26 left in the first half. Two hoops from Middlebury's Maya Davis, including a three-point play, tied the game at 19-19 at the 5:53 mark. Goslin closed the first half with a layup to put her team up 28-26 at the break.
Trailing by six in the third quarter, the Panthers went on a 12-2 run, taking a 38-34 lead on a jumper from Colleen Caveney with 6:27 left in the half. The Pride answered with an 8-0 spurt, going back on top with a 42-38 advantage with 3:48 left in the quarter. The lead extended to seven as the Pride took a 50-43 margin into the fourth quarter.
A Caveney jumper cut the lead to five (50-45) before neither team scored a point for over five minutes. When the scoring resumed, the Panthers continued their run with a three from Alex Huffman and a bucket from Kaufman to bring them within two at 52-50 with 2:57 remaining. Huffman struck again 1:32 later, knocking down a clutch three to tie the game at 55-55 with 1:25 left to play.
Springfield took the lead on a hoop by Goslin, but Knox answered for the Panthers to tie it at 57-57 with 19 seconds on the clock. Springfield had a late shot to win it, but it missed, as the Panthers called timeout before taking over possession with just three seconds to go. Inbounding the ball in front of her own bench, Catherine Harrison found Kaufman on the right side, who threw up a desperation shot that found the net as Middlebury emerged with the 60-57 win.
Caveney led all scorers with a career-high 25 points in the game, followed by Kaufman with 14 and Huffman, who scored eight points with seven rebounds. Davis finished with seven points and tied a career high with 10 rebounds, while Harrison grabbed eight boards.
Gracie Restituyo led Springfield with 15 points, Heather King added 14, while Goslin chipped in with 10.